Words We Heard: 'Normal is fighting your way through a jungle of confusion.'

I am a planner. When I was younger, I had my entire life mapped out. I knew where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to major in, what job I wanted, where I wanted to live. When my senior year of high school rolled around, I got hit with a serious reality check. It started with college choices. I had made my decision and publicly announced where I would be going to school. A premature decision on my part, especially since I hadn’t talked with my parents much about it. This resulted in me being “forced” to attend a college I had only applied to by default. I cried for a week when my parents told me that my first choice wasn’t an option.

Then came the time to pick my major. This was one hell of a time, let me tell you. Turns out I actually had zero clue what I wanted to do with my life. I picked a random major based on the fact that I liked to people watch. By midterms of my first semester, I already knew I wanted a change. I hated science, which is interesting since the major I randomly chose was psychology. I sat down with my advisor and tried to figure out what my next option was. I switched to journalism going into my sophomore year. Throughout sophomore year, I tried a second major, communication, added and dropped a PR certificate, and considered changing course yet again.

But that’s life sometimes. You think you have a plan. You think you know what you’re going to do. Then one thing changes. Then another. Then one more thing. You also change. You get older. You learn more. You live more. You realize that what you thought you loved may not be what you want to do for the rest of your life. That was, and still is, a hard concept for me to grasp. My plan is constantly changing for my life as I experience more and realize what truly matters to me. I develop new passions. I meet new people who inspire me everyday. I can no longer plan things months in advance, let alone years because every aspect of my life is always changing.

But as I finish my junior year of college, it’s time to get back into the mode of planning. There’s a path to graduation, and I need to figure out exactly what that is for me. It’s hard to map that out because there is so much that can change. I hate the idea of having a plan and things not going exactly as I imagine. The reality is, I have around 14 months left. I have to face the fact that detours are okay as long as I have an end goal. There are times in life where I get to just wing it. There are times when I’ll have to plan. To me, the key is knowing I may not follow that exact plan, and that’s okay.


  • “It’s okay to get to a point in life and realize what you’re doing isn’t for you anymore.”  –Kate Berry in a talk titled “Surviving Life as a Creative Person” for Creative Mornings
  • “What can you do differently to stand out? You’re not going to get these answers by having coffee with someone in the industry… Do your research, read, travel, crunch the numbers – do the work!”  –Emily Frank, founder of C’est Cheese, in an interview with Aviatra Accelerators

  • “In one way, it is easier to be inexperienced: You don’t have to learn what is no longer relevant. Experience, on the other hand, creates two distinct struggles: The first is to identify and unlearn what is no longer necessary (that’s work, too). The second is to remain open-minded, patient, and willing to engage with what’s new, even if it resembles a new take on something you decided against a long time ago.”  –Frank Chimero, author of The Shape of Design and co-founder of Abstract, in his piece “Everything Easy is Hard Again

  • “I wish I’d known that it was okay that I didn’t have a grand plan, that I hadn’t planned out my future year by year, decade by decade, and that perhaps there wasn’t an obvious ‘path’ for me to take, because there isn’t for anyone.” –Anna Holmes, founder of Jezebel, in an interview with Quartz at Work

  • “It’s important to know at any given moment what you would drop everything for.”  –Greta Gerwig in an interview with Time

  • “It wasn’t necessarily planned. If you have a love of something, it’s natural to want to share it. And so I have found myself sharing it, and that has led to teaching larger and larger groups of people.” –Liz Wu, musician and teacher, in an interview with Women of Cincy

  • “We hear constantly about prodigies with luck and guts who land big contracts and dream positions at 22, but they’re an anomaly. What’s more normal is fighting your way through a jungle of confusion.”  –Elena Sheppard in her article for Vanity Fair

Lindsay Combs